Shades of Truth and Fiction in Contemporary French Literature

Contemporary literature is not easily grasped. It is constantly unfolding, leaving us, its readers, little time to map the field and little distance to judge what will become the emblematic works of our era. While this uncertainty may seem daunting, contemporary literature offers us unique opportunities to gain a complex understanding of present-day events, perspectives, taboos, and obsessions.

One notion that has come to define our times is that of truth. We are tasked, urgently, to seize what it may be and how it can be ascertained. Paradoxically, literature may contribute some of the most crucial reflections on the boundaries of truth. Indeed, writers of fiction have an intimate grasp on all shades of the real and of its representation. This appears remarkably salient in contemporary French literature, as it plays endlessly with nuances of the self, of testimony, of objectivity. In this class, we will discover how a variety of authors interprets historical reconstitution, gaslighting, confession, verisimilitude, autofiction, and more.

Required texts:

Patrick Modiano, Dora Bruder
Emmanuel Carrère, La moustache
Hervé Guibert, Cytomégalovirus
Annie Ernaux, L’événement
Edouard Levé, Autoportrait
Christine Angot, Les Petits
Gaël Faye, Petit pays
Maylis De Kerangal, À ce stade de la nuit                     

Instructor: Dr. Vincent Gélinas-Lemaire

Prerequisite: One of FREN 320, FREN 321, FREN 328, FREN 329, FREN 330

Language of Instruction: French

Course Registration